Meaning of PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE in English

PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

also called rules of order the generally accepted rules, precedents, and practices commonly employed in the government of deliberative assemblies. Such rules are intended to maintain decorum, to ascertain the will of the majority, to preserve the rights of the minority, and to facilitate the orderly transaction of the business of an assembly. Rules of order had their origin in the early British Parliaments. Sir Thomas Smith wrote (156266) an early formal statement of procedures in the House of Commons, De Republica Anglorum (published 1583). Lex Parliamentaria (1689) was a pocket manual for members of Parliament; it includes many precedents that are now familiar. It drew from the Journal of the House of Commons points such as the following: one subject should be discussed at a time (adopted 1581); the chair must always call for the negative vote (1604); personal attacks and indecorous behaviour are to be avoided in debate (1604)He that digresseth from the Matter to fall upon the Person ought to be suppressed by the Speaker. . . . No reviling or nipping words must be used; and debate must be limited to the merits of the question (1610)A member speaking, and his speech, seeming impertinent, and there being much hissing and spitting, it was conceived for a Rule, that Mr. Speaker may stay impertinent speeches. In British America, colonists depended heavily on procedures developed in Parliament and, under written charters and grants, gained experience in governing under written documents. That experience later led to the framing of state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson's A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801) was the first to interpret and define parliamentary principles for the new U.S. democracy. The modern system of general parliamentary law and practice is, in many respects, at wide variance with the current systems of procedure of both Parliament and the U.S. Congress. Rules designed for legislatures that are often bicameral with paid memberships, that meet in continuous session, that require a majority for a quorum, and that delegate their duties largely to committees address special legislative requirements. They are as a whole unsuited to the needs of an ordinary assembly. Writing for a previous edition of Encyclopdia Britannica, Clarence Cannon, who was U.S. congressman from Missouri, 192364, observed: . . . there has been simultaneously developed through years of experiment and practice a simpler system of procedure adapted to the needs of deliberative assemblies generally and which, though variously interpreted in minor details by different writers, is now in the main standardized and authoritatively established. An early U.S. attempt to serve assemblies of every description . . . especially . . . those not legislative in their character was Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1845), by Luther S. Cushing (180356), a jurist and clerk of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. Of lasting service has been Robert's Rules of Order, codified by a U.S. Army officer, General Henry M. Robert (18371923) (q.v.). Published initially in 1876, it went through various editions and reprintings and continues to be published in periodic editions. A deliberative assembly, to which parliamentary law is ordinarily applied, has the following characteristics, according to Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (7th ed., 1970; Chapter 1, section 1): it is an independent or autonomous group convened to determine in free discussion courses of action to be taken in the name of the entire group; the group is of such sizeusually any number of persons more than about a dozenthat a degree of formality is necessary in its proceeding; members are free to act; each member's vote has equal weight; failure to concur . . . does not constitute withdrawal from the body; and members present act for the entire membership subject only to such limitations as may be established by the body's governing rules. The will of such a deliberative assembly is expressed by its action on proposals submitted for consideration in the form of motions or resolutions offered by members. In order to make a motion, a member ordinarily must rise and address the chair and secure recognition. If the motion is in order and is seconded by another member, it is stated by the presiding officer. Then it is subject to the action of the assembly. Motions may be classified as main motions that introduce a proposition and as secondary motions, designed to affect the main motion or its consideration. A main motion is in order only when there is no other business before an assembly. It yields in precedence to all other questions. Secondary motions may be subdivided into (1) subsidiary, (2) incidental, and (3) privileged. Subsidiary motions are applicable to other motions for the purpose of modifying the main question or affecting its consideration and disposition. They have precedence of the motion to which applied but yield to privileged and incidental motions. The subsidiary motion to lay on the table is, in U.S. usage, a motion to suspend consideration of the question until such time as the assembly may determine to take it from the table for further consideration. The motion is not debatable and may not be amended, postponed, committed, divided, or reconsidered. The purpose of the motion for the previous question is to close debate peremptorily and bring the assembly to an immediate vote on the pending question. It precludes both debate and amendment and requires a two-thirds vote for passage under general parliamentary procedure. It yields to the motion to table, to the question of consideration, and to privileged and incidental motions and may be reconsidered, but takes precedence of motions to postpone, amend, and commit. The motion to limit or extend debate is in order under general parliamentary law and is subject to the rules governing the previous question. The motions to commit, recommit, and refer are practically equivalent and provide for reference of the pending proposition to a committee. The motion to recommit may be amended as by adding instructions to the committee as to time and manner of report. Debate on the motion is limited to the question of reference and instructions. It takes precedence of motions to amend and indefinitely postpone but yields to other subsidiary motions and to all incidental and privileged motions. Motions to amendcalling for changes in the text or terms of the propositionrequire a second and must be reduced to writing if requested by the chair. There is no limit to the number of amendments that may be proposed and new amendments may be offered as rapidly as the pending amendment is disposed of. Amendments in the second degreethat is, amendments to amendmentsare admissible but amendments in the third degreethat is, amendments to amendments to amendmentsare not in order. Only four amendments in the first and second degrees may be pending simultaneously, as follows: amendment; amendment to the amendment; substitute for the amendment (i.e., when it is desired to replace the entire pending amendment); and amendment to the substitute. The amendment must, of course, be offered first and the substitute before the amendment to the substitute, but otherwise there is no rule governing the order in which the four amendments may be presented. They must, however, be voted on in the following order: first, amendments to the amendment; second, amendments to the substitute; third, the substitute; and last, the amendment. Motions to amend will not be entertained unless germane or relevant to the main question. This motion yields to all privileged, incidental, and subsidiary motions except indefinite postponement. It is subject to amendment, to the operation of the previous question, and to reconsideration, and when laid on the table carries with it the proposition proposed to be amended. Likewise, when the main question is laid on the table, postponed or recommitted, all pending amendments accompany it. (British usage differs: a proposal laid on the table of a British deliberative or legislative assembly has been put forth for consideration.) Incidental motions include questions arising incidentally in the consideration of other questions and decided before disposition of the one to which they are incident. They have no relative rank and merely take precedence of the pending question in the consideration of which they have arisen. All are undebatable with the exception of appeal. They comprise motions to suspend the rules, withdraw motions, read papers, raise the question of consideration, raise questions of order and appeal, reconsider, take up out of order, determine method of procedure, divide pending questions, and raise questions relating to nominations. The motion temporarily to suspend the rules may not be debated or reconsidered and is not subject to the application of any subsidiary motion. The vote required to pass the motion is ordinarily fixed by the rules of the assembly and in the absence of such provision is two-thirds of those present and voting. The question of whether the assembly desires to take up a proposition regularly presented for its consideration may be tested by raising the question of consideration, which may be moved at any time before actual consideration commences and does not require a second. The assembly may by a two-thirds adverse vote decline to take up any business it prefers not to consider. Privileged motions relate to matters of such urgent importance that they supersede temporarily pending business. They take precedence of all other motions and may be offered while other questions are pending. In this class of motions is the motion to fix the time at which to adjourn, to adjourn, to take a recess, and to raise questions of privilege, all of which are undebatable. Points of order may be made while another has the floor and when the question concerns the use of unparliamentary language. The question must be raised at the time the proceeding giving rise to the objection occurs. Debate on questions of order may be closed by the presiding officer at any time. The motion to reconsider must be made by one who voted with the prevailing side but may be seconded by any member. The motion is of the highest privilege. If agreed to, the motion reopens the entire question for further action. Unclassified here are motions to take from the table, to discharge a committee, to accept the report of a committee, to rescind, to repeal, to annul, to expunge, and to permit a member to resume the floor after having been called to order for words spoken in debate. To debate a question, a member must be recognized by the presiding officer for that purpose. The presiding officer should first recognize the mover of a proposition or the member of a committee presenting a report and should endeavour to alternate recognitions between those favouring and those opposing a question. Under general parliamentary procedure, a member securing the floor may speak without limit. In conventions, it is customary to adopt a rule at the opening session limiting debate to a specified number of minutes. In debate a member must confine remarks to the question under consideration, must avoid personalities, and must not arraign motives. A presiding officer who is a member of the assembly has the right to debate and to participate in the proceedings but should call another to the chair before taking the floor and should not resume it again until the pending question has been decided. Voting may be by ballot, by division (that is, a rising, or standing, vote), viva voce (the presiding officer deciding by the volume of voices), by show of hands, by tellers who may take the count in various ways, and by yeas and nays (the clerk calling the roll and recording each vote as given). If there is doubt as to the result of a voice vote, any member may request a division; the presiding officer thereupon proceeds to take a rising vote. Only members in attendance may vote unless provision has been made for proxy votes. A tie vote defeats an affirmative motion. The presiding officer, if a member of the assembly, may vote to break a tie or to make one. The committee of the whole consists of the entire assembly acting as a general committee. It affords greater freedom of consideration, but in bodies other than legislative assemblies it is rarely used.

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